Archive for Radio Scouting

October 2018 JOTA Newsletter

The October 2018 JOTA Newsletter has been published. Key stories around JOTA-JOTI location registration, station reports, and don't miss Jocelyn Brault's wonderful story about her introduction to amateur radio through Jamboree on the Air and discovering the hobby all over again some 30 years later.

Here's the link: October 2018 JOTA Newsletter. Subscribe so you don't miss a single issue.

Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip — Discontinued

The BSA's National Awards, Insignia, and Uniforms Committee has advised us that the Amateur Radio Operator Rating Strip has been discontinued. Here's the message from John Duncan, Volunteer Chair:

The BSA recognizes that our uniform remains an important method in our program delivery.  It follows that we must be good stewards of the limited space available on the uniform.  It is wonderful that there are so many organizations, certifications, ratings, and professional credentials that are so well aligned with Scouting's core values, as evidenced by a high volume and continuing flow of similar requests for uniform pieces to identify current military, military veterans, civil servants, doctors and other medical professionals, EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement, clergy/faith leaders, environmental professionals, and others.  The view of the committee is that while all such professions, certifications and ratings are laudable, the BSA uniform is not a proper way to recognize any of these.  Instead, guidance in response to such proposals is generally what the ARRL has already done -- creation of a national-level Award for Service to Scouting, approved for inclusion as part of the community organization knot.

While this is disappointing news, we can take consolation that we had a good run with the rating strip. Moreover, the existing rating strips can continue to be worn on the uniform. Here's the information shared by the Awards, Insignia, and Uniforms Committee:

All discontinued Boy Scouts of America uniforms and insignia may be worn in keeping with the applicable uniform and insignia guidelines as of the time of their production, so long as condition of original insignia does not detract from the neatness of the uniform.  Exact reproductions or “private issue” insignia are not authorized for uniform wear.  Furthermore, existing supply will continue to be sold until exhausted, so for the passionate followers, consider buying a lifetime supply now!  Although the diagrams errantly created and communicated broadly via Bryan on Scouting never made it into a Guide to Awards and Insignia, existing awards may continue to be worn as depicted in those diagrams, in keeping with this guidance.

Given this information, it's probably time to stock up on the patches from BSA Supply. It's order number 617431 and here's the link for online ordering

The details for uniform placement and requirements can be found at

JOTA Newsletter — June 2018

The Jamboree on the Air Newsletter for June 2018 is now available. You can find it at this link

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Lightning Safety Policy Example

A Scout Camp or your own ham shack could experience lightning and the subsequent challenges of finding, repairing, and/or replacing equipment damage. Daniel McGlothin, KB3MUN, has pulled together a lightning safety policy for his council. It's a great example for you to consider for your own operations.

Mason-Dixon Council Ham Radio Lightning Safety Policy

This policy is to be used at any scouting event that includes ham radio operations.

  1. Participants should be moved away from the radio/antenna to a position of safety whenever lightning or thunder threatens. Wait at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash or thunder before returning to radio/antenna.
  2. It is suggested, but not required, that a portable lightning detector or a smartphone/computer lightning detector app be used. If such a lightning hazard indicator is used, lightning detected within an estimated 10 miles of the station location should be considered the same as observed lightning flash or thunder.
  3. Station equipment, including computers, shall be disconnected from utility/building power (AC outlets) when not in use or when lightning threatens. Antenna systems shall be disconnected from the radio and grounded when not in use or when lightning threatens.

Supplemental information: The following tools are mentioned only as examples of lightning detectors, they are neither mandated for use, nor are they the only detectors available. One example of portable lightning detector is AcuRite 02020 ( One example of a smartphone/computer lightning detector app is Weatherbug's Spark ( ).

For further information on lightning protection consult the PolyPhaser white paper titled Ham Radio Station Protection.

Heat lightning lights up the night sky over Echo Base Camp at the Summit Becthel Reserve during the 2013 National Scout Jamboree in New Hope, West Virginia.
(BSA Photo By Russell Harrison)